It is well with my soul. When peace like a river attendeth my way when sorrow, like sea bellows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.
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Articulate, graceful, motherly, courageous, faith-filled, and generous are all words that describe Bessie Olivia White -professional, educator, matriarch, Christian, and community servant. She showed her gratitude to the Lord through her kindness, service, and love to her family, community, neighbors, and friends. Olivia was an avid writer; she often wrote resolutions for family and friends and articles by request.
Bessie Olivia White began her earthly life on June 11, 1930 to the parentage of George and Mary White and they ensured that good manners and respect were molded in her character. “Olivia” or “Miss White,” as she was affectionately called by all who knew her, had an outgoing, pleasant personality that remained with her throughout her life. She was the youngest of five daughters, Gertrude White, Shirley Dawkins, Louellen Drummond, and Constance Davis, all of whom transitioned from earth to glory before her.
Olivia began her walk with the lord at an early age at Adams United Methodist Church. She loved the Lord and her church. Decades of commitment is evident in her willingness to serve timelessly as President of the Adult and United Methodist Women’s Organizations. As a faithful member of several choirs, she would move obstacles of despair with her praise and worship. She was a Lay Leader and was on the Mission Board at the local and conference levels. One highlight of her life was the attending the Annual Conference as a delegate. Upon her return, she eloquently shared inspiring summaries of the events with her family and friends. Her voice melodiously echoed throughout Accomack County during the spiritual Choir Festivals. She was also a member of The Prince Hall Affiliation of the Eastern Star, Georgetown Chapter #28.
Olivia received her formal education through the Accomack County Public School System. She continued on to Delaware State University, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and received her Master’s Degree in Education from Temple University. Her passion for education and life was manifested in the thirty-nine years that she dedicated to the field of education.
Miss White was an inspiration in the many lives that she impacted throughout her life and career. As an exceptional educator lights the pathway of others, she was a beacon of light for numerous young minds. Miss White left a lasting impression on everyone she came in contact with: her students, co-workers, and administrators. She was a principal and a teacher. Miss White taught at Mary N. Smith High School, Oaks Elementary School, Atlantic Elementary School, North Accomack Elementary School, and Parksley Middle School.
Her agreeable personality earned many friends and colleagues on her journey to educating the children in Accomack County. She went that extra mile in everything she did, and added such intelligence and grace to any task that was to be performed. She was a woman of extraordinary strength and dignity, sent to us by God. May her legacy continue to live on in our hearts and soul.
Bessie Olivia White leaves her beautiful memories of life, love, and legacy to: three children she reared, Teen, Brenda, and Oh, 2 of whom followed in her footsteps as educators; three nieces, Henrietta “Teen” (George) Washington, Doretha West, and Lavone Bell;six nephews, Jerome Davis, Michael Davis, Willie (Karen) White, Marcus Davis, Eric Davis, and LaKendrick Dennis; a host of great-nieces, great-nephews, cousins, special friends, Ida Nedab, Robin Nedab, Maggie Bagwell, Faye Shelton, Jesse Poulson, and a myriad of friends and the Adams United Methodist Church family, all of whom were eternally dedicated to her.